The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is at the forefront of President Obama’s climate actions. The White House has just announced a plan for the EPA to address dangerous methane pollution. This is in addition to new power plant rules, coal ash regulations and vehicular fuel efficiency standards.
The new rules on methane are important part of plans to curb climate change. Methane is a byproduct of the oil & gas industry that is a potent greenhouse gas which is 87 times more destructive than carbon on a 20 year timescale. Methane accounts for about 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for approximately 25 percent of the climate change we’re experiencing today. The combination of regulations and voluntary guidelines will cut methane emissions from America’s oil and gas industry by as much as 45 percent from 2012 levels over the next decade.
This is a big deal when you consider the US is already the world’s largest producer of gas and on track to become the world’s biggest producer of oil this year. The new methane standards will focus on leaks from things like faulty casings, valves and millions of miles of pipes.
The new policy addresses an as yet untapped opportunity to reduce GHGs and is a key component of the President’s climate action strategy. However, it is focused on new sources of pollution and does not address pollution from existing sources.